Congress organisation: 5 myths busted

Hearing opinions about congress management from people outside the industry is always interesting. As with every profession, there are many preconceptions and stereotypes that may well be true at their core, but can include large chunks of misinformation. With congress management in particular, people tend to imagine it either as completely glamorous or completely gruelling. Somehow, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground between these two extremes. So if you are interested in finding out what life as a congress organiser is really like, here are 5 of the most persistent event planning myths deconstructed for you:

Myth 1: It’s not an office job

As congress organisers, our ultimate goal is to create a successful conference that will make our clients and all involved stakeholders happy. That said, event planning is still 80-90% office based. As a congress manager, you are the centre of all activity and your desk is your command centre. Even though your job will take you out of the office on occasion, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone and answering emails.

Myth 2: It’s all one big party

Parties will be part of your job description for sure, but it will mostly be other people’s parties. You will need the ability to keep cool while everyone around you is letting lose. As a reward, you will get happy customers and attendees – and maybe a little celebration with your team once the job is done.

Myth 3: It’s a holiday

Many people see travel as one of the perks of the job. And it can be, if seeing the world and interacting with people from many different cultures is one of your dreams. However, much of your trips will involve a lot of time spent at airports, in venues and at meetings. After a long day of event planning you will likely drop straight into bed with little time left for sightseeing. That is not to say that you will not get the opportunity to sample the best a destination has to offer, you’ll just do it for your client, first and foremost. But once the job is done it is not unheard of for people to stick around for a few days of relaxation.

Myth 4: It’s all business all the time

Interestingly, this myth runs contrary to the holiday myth in that it persists that congress management is all about crazy schedules, being on call 24/7 and jetting from meeting to meeting at the expense of work-life balance. It’s true that events don’t follow a 9 to 5 schedule and some flexibility with working hours is a prerequisite. It’s also true that we put in more hours the closer we get to an event and at the event itself, sometimes including the odd weekend. However, there are off-seasons when you will be able to take time off, put your non-work life first and recharge for new adventures ahead. In the end, it’s a question of balance.

Myth 5: You’ll work within a budget

This is partly true in that you will be expected to deliver a quality event within budget. However, when it comes to association congresses, you won’t have a set budget to begin with. Much of your job will involve generating funds for your event, be it by acquiring sponsors or by thinking of the right marketing strategy to attract more delegates to your congress. In the end, the budget is almost as much up to your own efforts as everything else.

If you take anything away from this article, it should be that congress planning does not follow a set path. Everyone carves out their own way to follow and no two days will be the same. This is the challenge but also the beauty of congress planning: you always know that the next client, the next destination and the next event will come with a completely new set of expectations.

If you think congress planning might be for you, great! Why not come have a chat with us? Or if you are just starting out and would like to collect some first-hand experience at a congress with no strings attached, why not work at a hostess at one of our events? More information on all kinds of opportunities can be found here.